Schenectady County

SCCC to put dorm closer to classes

The Schenectady County Community College dormitory project has been relocated, moving it closer to t
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The Schenectady County Community College dormitory project has been relocated, moving it closer to the college and into a space big enough to add more beds.

The dorm is now slated to be built with 313 beds next to the Armory on Washington Avenue, BBL project executive Jay Hopeck said at Wednesday’s Schenectady Planning Commission meeting.

It will be directly across from the college, next to Railroad Avenue, in what is now a parking lot.

Hopeck said college officials were much happier with the new site.

“It has closer adjacency to the school. And it kind of cleans up the area a little bit,” he said. “We’re going from 1 percent green space to 24 percent green space.”

The dorm is also so close to the college that a pedestrian bridge will eventually be built between the closest college building and the dorm.

Until then, students will have to cross Washington Avenue at the traffic light. The busy road is essentially an entrance ramp to Interstate 890 in that area, and developers consider the traffic so dangerous that they don’t want a dorm entrance facing the road.

“We just feel there’s a safety and security concern. I’m not even sure you can safely walk on this side of the building,” Hopeck said.

However, the facade was developed as if the building’s main entrance faced the main road, pleasing many commission members. They liked the look of the masonry design and roof detailing, as well as the cedar-type siding on the other side of the building.

“It looks good,” said Commissioner Fred Lee.

Students will be able to enter the building from only one door near Erie Boulevard. Hopeck said that area would serve as a “security checkpoint,” from which nonstudents could call up to the dorm rooms and be buzzed in.

Many other doors lead out of the building but cannot be opened from the outside. That’s a common safety precaution at college dorms, although students often prop those doors open.

The dorm was supposed to be built by August. But developers delayed the project after many more students than expected said they wanted to live in the dorm. BBL was directed to make the dorm bigger, which meant it had to move: there wasn’t enough space at the original site, between South Church and South Ferry streets.

Residents who lived nearby also complained that there would not be enough parking spaces, predicting that students would take up all of the street spaces rather than parking in their own lot near the dorm.

Now, that site will become a public parking lot, Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said. Students and residents will be allowed to use it, but about a third of the spaces will be set aside specifically for dorm residents, Hopeck said. Metroplex will own the lot.

Since commission members were pleased by the dorm design, Hopeck plans to return on July 16 to ask for final approval. He hopes to begin construction this season, with the dorm opening to students in August 2009.

Students will be able to lease apartments with two to five bedrooms or choose to buy into a six-bed, four-bedroom apartment. That would be the cheapest option, Hopeck said, but he declined to detail the costs. The leases will include all utilities and Internet access.

Hopeck was enthusiastic about the look of the dorms, which he said more closely resemble apartments.

“These are nicer than my first two houses combined,” he said. “The kids’ll love them.”

He declined to give the total cost of the project, which Gillen estimated at $20 million.

SCCC would not technically own the dorm, but its nonprofit foundation would, allowing the college to get around a state law that prohibits community colleges from owning housing.

College officials have for years floated ideas about housing as its music, culinary arts and aviation science programs have grown. All three departments draw students from outside the area.

Categories: Schenectady County

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